Climate Change

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“Stringent Due Diligence”, Duties of Cooperation and Assistance to Climate Vulnerable States, and the Selective Integration of External Rules in the ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change and International Law

The International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea's  (ITLOS) 153-page 21 May 2024 Advisory Opinion on Climate Change and International Law is the first decision issued in the trifecta of advisory proceedings on climate change pending in international courts (the other two being the International Court of Justice and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights).  ITLOS declared at the outset that its Advisory Opinion would "confine itself to primary obligations" (Advisory Opinion, para. 148), and not the legal consequences arising from any breach of such primary obligations, such that the Tribunal would only refer to responsibility and liability in the Advisory Opinion only "to the extent necessary to clarify the scope and nature of primary obligations" (Advisory Opinion, para. 148, last sentence).  To recall, the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS) to posed the following two questions to ITLOS for its advisory opinion: "What are the specific obligations of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including under Part XII: (a) to prevent, reduce…

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The ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change: Selected Issues of Treaty Interpretation

Introduction This post analyses selected treaty interpretation issues in the ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change, delivered on 21 May 2024. The post does not seek to summarise nor address all issues raised by the Advisory Opinion. Instead, the aim is to analyse certain issues of treaty interpretation that arose at numerous points in the…

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Did the Court in Klimaseniorinnen create an actio popularis?

Perhaps the thorniest issue that the European Court had to address in Klimaseniorinnen was how to square the prohibition on actio popularis with the granting of standing to the applicant association, but not to the individual applicants. How can the four individual applicants lack victim status, as the Court held, yet the association, of which the applicants were…

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On Whose Authority? Freedom of Navigation and Protests in the 2023 NORI-D Area Incident

Introduction The activities of Greenpeace vessels have a habit of triggering the further illumination and development of international law. Greenpeace’s “Stop Deep Sea Mining” campaign is no exception. It effectively raises questions on the scope of Greenpeace’s individual right to protest (international human rights law) and the scope of the Netherland’s flag State right to…

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Reflections on the Strasbourg climate rulings in light of two aims behind the Duarte Agostinho case

Two aims, among others, motivated the decision to bring the Duarte Agostinho climate case (“Duarte”) directly to the European Court of Human Rights against multiple Respondent States. They were, first, to invite the Court to interpret States’ obligations in respect of climate change in a manner capable of protecting those in the most vulnerable parts…

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